Guest Post by Rachel Dodds
As the wind blows, you gently rock back and forth hearing the whistle of the wind and the rustle of the leaves. Sometimes bears and elk walk underneath – oblivious to you watching. There is something quite surreal to realize you are hanging from a tree! The sensation is like being on a boat but in fact you are hanging about 20 feet off the ground in the forest.
The Free Spirit Spheres near Qualicum Beach, Vancouver Island, is home to three unique spheres: Eve, Eryn and Melody. Tom Chudleigh who is the creator and designer has a unique way of marrying sailboat and tree house technology. The spheres are vertically suspended using harnesses to three trees like an inverted stool. Harnesses are rotated to ensure no damage to the trees. Each sphere takes approximately three years to build and everything is made to measure.
Tom’s passion for his spheres comes from his philosophy to live among the trees. He feels that people come for the experience, “It is about oneness and unity, more of a spiritual experience.” He believes that the experience of staying in a sphere will change people’s behavior. He hopes that eventually people will move into the forest and respect a living forest rather than logging it.
Funnily enough I never expected to find something so unique here. My father lives in Qualicum Beach and when I visit I just assume walking along the beach or heading to Goats on the Roof are the things to see – never did I imagine I could experience one of the top unique accommodations in the world (according to National Geographic). The night we stayed it was a bit stormy and mother nature dealt her blows – rocking enough that I was happy we only brought one bottle of wine for our romantic evening away! I had expected that this accommodation would be fully off grid and extremely eco but this is not quite the case. With the spheres in the trees there is no possibility of solar and so all energy is from the grid but there are composting toilets and recycling and compost facilities. Being amongst the trees with nature all around, the tranquility and respect for nature become inherent.
The spheres are similar to a boat in that every inch of space is utilized. Inside, its hard to imagine how so much can all fit these floating balls: sitting area with table, sink, refrigerator, microwave, windows, skylight, stereo …even wine glasses and bottle opener. The bathroom is just outside each sphere and built to look like a mushroom – with a view of course! Upon arrival a ‘snack’ is provided but this is more like a gourmet feast with a small bottle of bubbly, chocolate, muffins, yogurt, fruit, water and pastries.
It is a truly unique and peaceful place to spend a day or two. Attractions and restaurants are a drive away and there is not much else to do on the property, but if you’re looking for a novel retreat that helps you be one with the harmony of the forest, you won’t need anything else.